Faith and begorrah lads and lassies! With it being St. Patrick’s Day, you have to figure that the day just wouldn’t be right if we didn’t take the time to talk about that irascible X-Man from the fair land of Ireland. The biggest screamer in the Marvel Universe… No, not Angar. It’s Banshee!
He may not be the first X-Man to come to mind – or probably even the tenth – but Banshee was a pivotal member of the new X-Men when they made their debut in Giant-Size X-Men #1. Banshee first appeared in X-Men #28, written by Roy Thomas and penciled by Werner Roth. In this first appearance, Sean Cassidy was forced by Factor Three and the Ogre – via a headband with explosives embedded in it – to battle the original X-Men. As happens so often in early X-Men stories, Professor Xavier saves the day. Somehow with his telepathic powers, he disarms the explosives in the headband. A 9.8 graded copy of X-Men #28 can be yours for a cool $11,500. The going rate for a more affordable mid-grade 6.0 copy is $130. These prices are driven primarily by this being Banshee’s first appearance.
Banshee shows up semi-regularly in the X-Men afterward, typically in bit parts. Initially, he appears in issues involving Factor Three – X-Men #35, #37, and #39. Sean Cassidy is clearly not driving the prices of these books upward. The one issue of note of those three is #35. It offers a guest-starring role by the Amazing Spider-Man and the first appearance of the Changeling.
Banshee also makes an appearance toward the tail end of Roy Thomas’ and Neal Adams’ Sentinels storyline in X-Men #58, #59, and #60. Again, it’s not Banshee affecting these books as sought-after collectibles. Rather, you’re looking at three factors. The first is the first appearance of Havok in costume in #58, the first appearance of Sauron in #60, and Neal Adams artwork throughout.
One other early appearance of note – Captain America #172. Banshee managed to get himself entangled in Steve Englehart’s Secret Empire storyline, along with the X-Men. This marks a rare appearance for our merry mutants during this time, as their own series was in reprint limbo.
A New X-Man
In 1975 Marvel retooled the X-Men, creating a team with more of an international flavor in Giant-Size X-Men #1. The Irishman, Banshee, fit right in with this concept and became a full member of the team. His initial membership run would last until X-Men #129. His powers on the wane due to damage to his vocal cords, Cassidy quit the team to spend more time with his then-current romantic interest, Moira MacTaggert.
Banshee would continue to show up sporadically in issues of Uncanny X-Men over the ensuing years. His vocal cords finally healed enough to allow him to begin using his powers again, he rejoined the team in Uncanny X-Men #254. The main X-Men team was presumed dead, and Moira MacTaggert had formed a new team. Banshee would stay a member of an increasingly large X-Men roster into the 1990s before leading a new team of young mutants in Generation X #1. After a few deaths and resurrections – typical of nearly every X-Man throughout the team’s history – Banshee would eventually find himself on Krakoa with most of the world’s mutants beginning in House of X #1.
Banshee is at best considered a mid-tier mutant in the X-Men’s history. However, because he was a member of the team during the seminal Chris Claremont/Dave Cockrum/John Byrne run of early new X-Men stories that catapulted them into super-hero stardom, he will always have a place in collectors’ hearts. Other than the previously mentioned X-Men #28 his inclusion is not what drives prices for any of the comics in which he appears. Rather, it’s the status of the early issues of the new X-Men themselves as collectibles and investments that drive the prices ever higher. Still, Banshee is Marvel’s most famous native Irish super-hero. So, let’s raise a glass on this St. Patrick’s Day to the Irish X-Man and wish him slainte. Lord knows he could use it after his many deaths and resurrections.